September 19, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

The Baltic states and Poland will begin turning away Russian tourists from midnight on Monday as they tighten restrictions in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania reached an agreement with Poland earlier this month to limit the Schengen Area from issuing visas because the influx of Russians poses a “serious threat” to security.

The Schengen area consists mostly of 26 EU countries that allow unrestricted movement within their borders.

The travel ban means Russian citizens will not be able to enter four of the five European Union countries that share a land border with Russia. The fifth, Finland, has decided to remain open for visas, but has reduced the number of consular appointments available to those wishing to travel to Europe.

Exempt from the new ban will be Russian dissidents, journalists, truck drivers, refugees, as well as residents of EU countries and those visiting relatives in Europe.

The rule will not apply to humanitarian cases, family members, EU residence permits, diplomatic missions and other “legal exceptions”.

In a joint statement published on September 8, the prime ministers of the four countries stated, “Traveling to the European Union is a privilege, not a human right.”

“Among Russian citizens entering the EU/Schengen area, there are people who come with the intention of undermining the security of our countries, as three quarters of Russian citizens support Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine,” the statement said.

“Latvia, Poland, Lithuania and Estonia have agreed that measures are taken to protect public policy and internal security on common grounds, as well as to ensure the overall security of our shared Schengen area,” the statement said.

Commenting earlier on the EU’s decision to suspend the visa agreement with Moscow making it difficult for Russian citizens to obtain Schengen visas, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it was “ridiculous” and would make life difficult for Europeans as well.